By Nilay Kar Onum
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday blasted the U.S. saying that it tried to deceive Turkey by cooperating with terror groups in Syria.
Addressing the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s parliamentary group in a meeting, Erdogan said, “If we are strategic partners, then you will respect us. [...] You have tried to deceive us.”
The U.S. has sent 5,000 truck-loads of weapons to terror groups in Syria, Erdogan recalled.
“We wanted weapons from you [U.S.] in return for money. You did not give us, but you gave these weapons and ammunition to terror organizations for free.
“What kind of partnership is this?” he asked.
“We are now demolishing all of these [tunnels and weapons and ammunition depots]. […] All that ammunition is being seized by us gradually.”
Turkey and the U.S. have been trying to iron out a number of issues, principally those concerning the terrorist YPG/PKK in Syria, a group the U.S. has so far worked with, calling it a "reliable ally" in the fight against Daesh.
Turkey has strongly protested the U.S. collaboration with the YPG, categorically stating that it is the Syrian branch of the PKK, a terrorist group also recognized by the U.S. and the EU. The PKK, in its longer than three-decade terror campaign against Turkey, has taken some 40,000 lives, including those of women and children.
Operation Olive Branch
“We have taken under control of the city center [of Afrin] within 2 months,” Erdogan said, adding that the Turkish army and the Free Syrian army will continue the operation for a while in order to clear the remaining terrorists and explosives from the area.
On Sunday, Turkish-backed troops liberated the town of Afrin, which had been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since 2012.
A total of 3,647 terrorists have been “neutralized” since the start of Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin, Erdogan noted.
In response to claims that Turkey harmed civilians in Syria’s Afrin during the operation, the president said: “We have refuted all the claims through documents, witnesses accounts and footages [that Turkey showed].”
Recently, the terrorist group, as part of their smear campaign against Turkey, claimed a hospital in Afrin region was hit by the Turkish army.
The Turkish military released footage of an undamaged building of the hospital last weekend, refuting the smear campaign by the terrorists.
The one-minute video showed the hospital building is in good shape.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to clear terrorist groups from Afrin in northwestern Syria amid growing threats posed from the region.
According to the Turkish General Staff, Operation Olive Branch has aimed at establishing security and stability along Turkey's borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from the cruelty and oppression of terrorists.